Greece–United States relations
Due to the strong political, cultural and religious ties between the two nations, Greece and the United States today enjoy excellent diplomatic relations and consider each other a friendly nation. Both countries are members of several international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO, and both are founding members of the United Nations.
The United States and Greece have long-standing historical, political, and cultural ties based on a common western heritage, shared democratic values, and participation as Allies during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Greece; direct U.S. foreign investment in Greece was about $4.5 billion in 2006.
Relations between the two countries can be traced since the arrival of the first Greek immigrants to the United States in 1768. On November 7, 1837, the United States recognized the independence of Greece when the American Minister at London signed a treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the Greek Minister at London. This act marked the first negotiation of the United States with Greece and represented the US's recognition of Greece as in independent country in the early 1800s.1 Within this same year, the first American Consul Gregory A. Perdicaris took up his position in Athens. This mid-19th century treaty established the Greek-U.S. relations in part to help liberate and establish Greece as a separate country from the Ottoman Empire.1 Later during the Greek civil war of 1946-1949, the U.S. proclaimed the Truman Doctrine, promising assistance to governments resisting communist subjugation, and began a period of substantial financial and military aid. The U.S. has provided Greece with more than $11.1 billion in economic and security assistance since 1946. Economic programs were phased out by 1962, but military assistance has continued. In fiscal year 1995, Greece was the fourth-largest recipient of U.S. security assistance, receiving loans totaling $255.15 million in foreign military financing.
In 1953, the first defense cooperation agreement between Greece and the United States was signed, providing for the establishment and operation of American military installations on Greek territory. The current "mutual defense cooperation agreement" provides a continued U.S. military support to Greece and the operation by the U.S. of a major military facility at Souda Bay, Crete.
Since then, the relations between Greece and the United States have always been close, with both countries joining forces during the First World War, the Second World War and the Cold War. To the modern times the alliance between Greece with the United States have further been strengthened through the active role of both countries in NATO.
Mainly the Greek products exports to the United States involve petroleum products, cement, tobacco, fur products, olive oil, marble,clothing articles, steel products, pipes, and refractory products. On the other hand U.S. imports to Greece mostly are industrial and agricultural products and machinery, telecommunications equipment, electrical equipment, computers and electronic equipment,timber, medical and pharmaceutical items, machinery and parts, skins, and wood-pulp.2 Even though the United States impose restrictions on the importation of certain fresh or processed agricultural products there is full freedom of sale of Greek industrial products in the whole U.S. market. Also the EU-United States Agreement signed in May 1993 allows Greek enterprises to access to U.S. public contracts. Trade between the two countries amounted to nearly a billion in 2010.3 Due to the Credit Cruch Crisis since 2008 that has negatively affected Greek economy, thousands of U.S. firms have shifted their productive activities from other Balcan countries and Italy to Greece due to lower costs of production.4 The Greece-US Economic & Commercial Cooperation Committee (ECCC) is also currently working to bilaterally expand trade flow and cooperation, and widen their market in Southeastern Europe, the Black Sea and the Middle East.2
Bilateral Greek-U.S. military relations can be dated back to the early 19th century when Greece was fighting for their independence against the Ottoman Empire. During the Greek Philhellene movement, the two nations found commonality under their values of freedom and democracy. Under the Marshall Plan, US military played a role in helping the country establish their democracy and independence during the late 1800s. Military collaboration stemming from previous wars like WWI and WWII have set the foundation for the two countries as firm allies. Greece and the U.S. have also been allies through the Cold War as well as conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan within this past century.5 .6
According to the eight-year U.S.-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in September 1990 and was put into effect between 1990-1998 it regulates defense and intelligence relations between Greece and the United States. During the Gulf War collaboration was strengthened relations between Greece and the United States, as Greece sent military and medical assistance to the U.S. forces in the Gulf region. In May 1995 Greece Defence Ministry organised the "NEW SPIRIT 95" military exercises in the area of Karditsa as a mean to foster military cooperation between Greece, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and the United States. In parallel, exchange of visits between high level political and military officials to the two countries such as that of Condoleezza Rice to Athens reinforced cooperation between Greece and the United States in the areas of fight against terrorism and the war against drugs. Additionally the port of Thessaloniki is open to NATO exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece has been a main contributor to NATO operations in Afghanistan, including counterterrorism and counter-piracy maritime efforts.78
Greece is officially represented in the United States through its embassy in Washington, D.C. and consulate generals in the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Houston, and San Francisco. The United States has an embassy in Athens and a consulate general in Thessaloniki. Both Greece and the United States share membership in various international organisations with most important being the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Additionally Greece has been a permanent observer to the Organization of American States.
The earliest Greek immigrants date back to the 1760s, although the first significant Greek community was not established until the 1850s in New Orleans, LA. The first Greek consulate and Greek Orthodox Church in the US were founded in New Orleans as well. Immigration of Greeks into the US was at its peak in 1945 after damage of the World Wars and Greek Civil War had left their economy in ruins. After admittance of Greece into the EU in 1981, immigration of Greeks into the US greatly decreased. As of 1999 there were 72,000 Greek-Americans who had migrated to Greece, but now those number might be minimal due to the current economic crisis in the EU and Greece.9 The 2000 US Census showed 1,153,295 Greeks living in the US. About 3 million Americans are of Greek ancestry.10 Greek-Americans are an established, well-organized community in the U.S. (several notable politicians, including former Vice-President Spiro Agnew, and Senators Olympia Snowe and Paul Sarbanes are of Greek ancestry as well as 1988 Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis), and they help cultivate close political and cultural ties with Greece. There are several political advocacy groups founded by Greek-Americans that seek to bring awareness of ongoing public and economic issues occurring in Greece. The American Hellenic Council has been in service sine 1974.11 The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York has been in service even longer, since 1938, and likewise seeks to strengthen the Greek-American community in New York by being a voice to the Greek people.12
A group of Greek American lawyers, lobbyists, public relations firms are working under the American Hellenic Institute to promote the national interests of Greece in the U.S. Congress in cooperation with other national lobbies in the United States, with most important being the Israeli lobby and to a lesser extent the Armenian lobby.
|Guest||Host||Place of visit||Date of visit|
|President George H. W. Bush||Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis||Maximos Mansion, Athens||July 18, 1991|
|President Bill Clinton||Prime Minister Costas Simitis||Maximos Mansion, Athens||November 20, 1999|
|Prime Minister Costas Simitis||President George W. Bush||White House, Washington, D.C.||January 2002|
|Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis||President George W. Bush||New York City||18–23 May 2004|
|Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice||Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis||Maximos Mansion, Athens||April 2006|
|Prime Minister George Papandreou||President Barack Obama||White House, Washington, D.C.||March 2010|
|United States Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew||Minister of Finance Yannis Stournaras||Athens||June 2013|
|Prime Minister Antonis Samaras||President Barack Obama||White House||August 2013|
|Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos||Secretary of State John Kerry||State Department||August 2013|
In the 1990s such harsh rhetoric had ceased in political debates, with the exception of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2004 recognition of the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name has led to much criticism by the Communist Party of Greece which even in the post-Soviet times has a high appeal among a small part of the Greek voters.13
- Foreign relations of Greece
- Foreign relations of the United States
- Greek American
- Greece lobby in the United States
- United States Department of State: Background Note: Greece